When I was twenty-two, I found myself newly single after a long-distance relationship that disintegrated slowly and then all at once in a way much more akin to a rapid dissolving dishwashing tablet than a bath bomb. I was stuck in a retail job selling mature women’s footwear and I had lost a teaching position I adored, a magazine I cherished and the sense of life’s progression I desperately craved. In the non-reclining armchair of my therapists’ office, I found myself thinking aloud - “I am not so worried now, but I will be soon. What if I don’t meet someone ever, or get a grown-up law job or find a new group of friends or move outside of my hometown.”
Nodding sternly, my therapist offered two pieces of advice.
(1) Go online, you can find just about anything online.
I stand by this. I met two of my best girlfriends through connecting (or re-connecting) on Instagram. They just happen to live in two different states (boo).
(2) Ask yourself, if somebody offered you all of the things you wanted now, would you really be happy?
I gave this one some serious thought. Because if someone offered me the perfect new apartment with the perfect penguin and group of friends that you think of when you read university open day pamphlets would I really be happy?
There is something oddly satisfying about progressing in life on your own terms. It’s kind of like when you spend hours of a video game collecting every single one of those damn coins to unlock the “alternative” ending. Or saving up all of your pocket money so you can buy roller-skates only to injure yourself on the first go of them because you don’t remember the last time you went roller-skating. Things happen when they are meant to happen, and they happen in their own time if we keep working at them.
The fact of the matter is if I met my penguin at eighteen, I am not going to be the same person I would be if I met them at twenty-five. If I have enrolled in a six-year degree, I cannot be surprised that I don’t own my own home or earn a full-time wage in my uni retail job. And in all honestly, I am excited to rent my first ever apartment that doesn’t see natural daylight but is all completely mine.
We simply cannot compare ourselves to the progression or success of other people because the only true standard of comparison we have is to ourselves and how far we have come. How could you possibly be disappointed of where you have come when you consider how much you have grown even six months or a year ago?
I am excited that this piece was inspired by an interview by one of my role models for our “Chats by the Watercooler” interview series. Her story and gradual rise to success shows that achieving goals requires a slow and continual grind and how we ultimately learn just as much from our losses as we do from our wins in life. She also happens to have a killer shoe collection. You can find our interview with Steph Reid Here.
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